Depression – an escapable black hole

Depression is a nasty thing. It is a life-limiting condition, because even at mild levels, it prevents you from enjoying life to the full. But it can cause crippling worry and/or anxiety, and even lead to suicide.  The good news however, is that no matter how bad your depression may be, you can absolutely escape from it.  From personal experience, I know that the mind is a very Depressionpowerful thing. It is so powerful that it can cripple you mentally – if you let it.  Let’s get one thing clear – I am no psychiatrist. But I have suffered with depression and anxiety on and off for about 50 years, which I consider qualifies me to at least talk about it.  I said depression can cripple you if you let it, knowing full well that it is not a choice for most people. When your mind decides to go into depression mode, there doesn’t seem much that you can do about it.  But there is!

You should first of all understand that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Depression is a massive problem, endured by a very large number of people in the UK. in 2009, MIND (The mental health charity) reported that nearly ten people in every hundred were suffering with anxiety and depression:

http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/statistics-and-facts-about-mental-health/how-common-are-mental-health-problems/

There are around 65 million people in the UK, so that works out at six and a half million people in the UK alone, suffering with anxiety and depression. and that figure does not include people with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), phobias or eating disorders!  Extrapolate this to a global level, and you begin to get an idea of precisely why you are not suffering alone.

Unfortunately, there is still a stigma surrounding mental illness:  Because you can’t see any physical symptoms, it can’t be that much of a problem. But thanks to organisations like MIND, that perception is being changed and there is a better acceptance, both socially and in the workplace of the crippling effects that mental illness can have on a person.

First off, if you feel you are not as chirpy as you should be, talk to your GP who will recommend a course of action involving, medication, counselling, or both, depending on the severity of your symptoms.  I’d like to add here that when I first approached my GP about depression, it was like a massive admission that I had failed. That I was incapable of dealing with it myself. And it hurt my pride. But I am kicking myself now for not doing that years ago.  I thought I would be scoffed at – you know the kind of thing, “You need to get a grip”, or “snap out of it”.  But that was certainly not the case. My GP was very sympathetic and understood to a very large degree how it was affecting me, due no doubt to the large number of people with similar problems.

So make an appointment and get to see a GP!

Secondly, there are some things you can do to help yourself. These worked well for me, but I understand that we are all individuals and what works for one may not work so well for another.

  1. Keep busy.  If you are at home, do some housework, go for a walk, do some shopping, do some gardening, play a video game, play some uplifting music.  Anything to occupy your mind will steer you away from that black pit of depression.  Go somewhere that you can meet and talk with people – drop-in centres are always holding coffee mornings and the like where you can go and meet people without being scowled at.  In fact the simple act of talking to someone else, be it a partner, friend or colleague can have a very positive effect. But don’t let the conversation degenerate into self-pity. Keep it light!
  2. Take some exercise. Walking, cycling, running, jogging, swimming – it doesn’t matter. Exercise is a great natural anti-depressant!
  3. Avoid alcohol as much as you can. It may give a temporary escape, but in the long term just remember that alcohol is itself a depressant, and is not going to help one tiny bit in the longer term.
  4. If you are at work, – keep busy!  Get stuck into whatever tasks are your reponsibility and don’t give your mind a chance to start doing it’s bad thing.  And your boss will certainly appreciate you more than if you sit there moping!
  5. Grab your computer or tablet or whatever and get onto YouTube. Plug in some earphones – (mind the volume!)  and check out some meditation videos.  They are very relaxing and can help enormously to reduce anxiety, especially at bedtime.  Just search YouTube for ‘Meditation’ or ‘stress relief’!
  6. Get a dog – if your lifestyle is compatible. A dog will need a lot of attention, cost money to feed and maintain (vaccinations, Vet bills, etc), and must not be left alone for more than a few hours at a stretch.  However, the comfort, love and friendship you will get in return cannot be easily described with just words.  You can find out which breed is right for you on the Kennel Club website:
    http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/findabreed/

I hope this is all helpful.  As i said earlier, I am not a psychiatrist, just a fellow sufferer.  However, by doing the stuff on this post, I am now in a much better place and starting to really enjoy life again.

Mark.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

 

All Change

Woman with depressionAfter a period of hiatus, I’ve decided to expand the scope of this website to address not only hypertension, but also stress, anxiety and depression. I’m not a medical professional, but I like to think of myself as life-experienced, having lived for 60 years and learned much by way of observation and experience. As the weeks go by, I will now be changing the content of the site to reflect a sense of positivity that I hope will be infectious.

It is said that laughter is the best medicine. That’s great if you are in the mood for laughing but if not, just being happy, content and at peace with yourself is a great step forward. To that end, I will be posting all sorts of stuff on here. Some funny, some practical, but it will all be aimed at trying to make your life a little bit better.

For example, I’ve found that one of the best ways to address anxiety and/or depression is simply to keep yourself busy. It’s quite easy to do, especially nowadays as life tends to be crazy mad anyway. Housework, decorating, gardening, playing or listening to upbeat music, walking, running, getting out and about (even a walk to the local shops), go for a bike ride, meet a friend for a chat, go for a coffee morning somewhere – meet some new people, and so on. All these things will help steer your mind away from doom and gloom and into a better place.  And you may have noticed that things seem worse at night, so try to sleep well, by making sure you are physically tired at bedtime.

I could go on for hours (and no doubt will at some point!), but what I’m trying to say is that stress, depression and anxiety, although caused by external influences are a product of the mind, which is a very powerful thing. It therefore takes a huge amount of will to overcome these conditions and it’s that which most people struggle with. The good news is that there is plenty of help out there, so if things are bad, talk to a medical professional – your GP is a good place to start. you will find him/her very sympathetic and well-qualified to help as they will already have helped many people with your condition on the road to recovery.

Have a look at the MIND website. This is a great resource for anyone with mental health issues:
http://mind.org.uk/

And also the NHS:
http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/depression/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Until next time,

Mark.

 

 

 

Change of Domain Name

Just a quick note to let you know that I’ve changed the domain name of this site from omronreview.com to bloodpressurereview.info. The reason for that is I want the site to be less manufacturer-oriented and more informational with no bias towards any one manufacturer or product.

No other changes apart from that. I’ve redirected omronreview.com to the new domain, so if you’re a creature of habit that will continue to work for the time being.

I’ll get round to changing the site header too at some point in the near future.

If you have any problems with the site, please let me know.

Best regards,
Mark.

The Newsletter

Having tried issuing a monthly newsletter on and off for a while, I’m afraid I’m going to cease them for the foreseeable future. Having issued the last one to around 200 people, only one was actually read. With heartfelt thanks to that person for reading it, I must arrive at one of two conclusions:

1. Most site visitors/subscribers are not really bothered about a newsletter.
or
2. Most of the email addresses registered on this website are spam.

Either way, apologies for any disappointment, but I will at least continue updating the site with what I hope are informative posts at reasonably regular intervals.

All the best to you,
Mark.

Keep Taking the Tablets!

I read an article recently about the number of people receiving medication for hypertension (high blood pressure) who neglect to take their medication regularly, or worse still, don’t take it at all.

As I’ve often said before, hypertension is a potentially life-threatening condition so if you have been prescribed medication for this condition, do yourself a favour and take it in accordance with your doctor’s instructions. The alternative is stroke, kidney damage or heart failure. Remember, there are usually no obvious symptoms of hypertension which is why it’s so dangerous.

To illustrate the importance of taking prescribed medication, I’ll tell you about an episode that happened to me just a couple of years ago. As you may know from my previous posts, I take a combination of Atenolol, Amlodipine and Ramipril for my hypertension. It took about a year for my GP to decide on the correct combination and dosage of these drugs which is not an unusual timeframe. By now, it was around Christmas time and my blood pressure had been brought down by the medication from 170/117 to 140/90. As a final tweak, my GP decided to try replacing the Amlodipine with Doxazosin. Not sure why, but I’m assuming there was a reason. Two days into Doxazosin and it’s Christmas day. The morning festivities included an alcoholic beverage or two, putting the turkey in the oven, opening presents, and… a spectacular nosebleed from yours truly. I had a feeling that was caused by switching from Amlodipine to Doxazosin, but decided to stick with it. Later that evening, I was calmly sitting watching TV when I had another nosebleed. Not really what you want on Christmas day, or any other day for that matter. Of course, my local health centre and pharmacy were closed for the holiday, so not wanting a series of nosebleeds, I put myself back on the Amlodipine, whereby the nosebleeds cleared up. Incidentally, my BP went up from 140/90 to 154/96 on the Doxazosin, which probably explained the nosebleeds. As soon as the health centre opened up after the break, I checked in with my GP who was very apologetic, saying the nosebleeds were certainly not intended and that I’d done the right thing putting myself back on the Amlodipine which I remain on to this day.

Referring back to the start of this post, I hope this highlights the need to take your prescribed hypertension medication, because if you don’t, the consequences may be considerably worse than a nosebleed.

Omron Review Newsletter

Just a quick post to let you know I’ve issued another newsletter through a new mail provider, so it may be blocked as spam by your email program.
If you would like to view the newsletter, either check your email junk folder to see if it’s in there, or click this link.

If you do wish to continue receiving the newsletters, please add the email address info@omronreview.com to your safe senders list, or add it into your contacts.

Let me know at the same email address if you have any problems accessing the newsletter.

Happy Reading!
Mark.

Green Tea Blocks Blood-Pressure Medication Nadolol

Green tea has been the subject of many medical and scientific studies over the years to discover the extent of its alleged health benefits. There’s not really much argument that regular drinkers of green tea do seem to have a lower risk of developing heart disease and certain types of cancer. It can also boost the metabolic rate to help with weight loss, although to be fair, that effect is fairly minimal.

Flavonoids are chemicals present in plants, particularly in green tea, and they are known to be responsible for anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogenic effects. (Interestingly, flavonoids are also present in wine!) But it seems that these chemicals are responsible for preventing Nadolol, a beta-blocker blood pressure medication, from entering the bloodstream.

In a study consisting of ten healthy adults, the volunteers were given Nadolol along with two glasses of green tea a day, for two weeks. Then, the Nadolol continued for a further two weeks during which time the green tea was stopped.

The researchers found that the volunteers had 75% less Nadolol in their blood while drinking green tea than when they were not drinking it. Additionally, while drinking the tea, the Nadolol was not so effective at lowering blood pressure.

The research team, led by Shingen Misaka of Fukushima Medical University in Japan, discovered that antioxidants in green tea called catechins shut down the cellular mechanism responsible for absorbtion of nadolol into cells.

The findings were published in the January 13th edition of Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics.

This seems typical of many findings these days, where something traditionally accepted to be beneficial is also found to have negative effects. Sometimes, it’s hard to know what to do for the best!

Red Face, Red Flag?

A recent Korean research study has found that if your face turns red when you drink alcohol, you are more likely to develop hypertension, or high blood pressure.

This finding was published online in the U.S.A. journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research recently, and shows that if you get a red face after drinking alcohol, it may mean that you have an intolerance, or high sensitivity to alcohol. Unfortunately, it may also show an increased risk of hypertension.

Jong Sung Kim, head of the department of family medicine at Chungnam National University School of Medicine said “Facial flushing after drinking is always considered as a symptom of high alcohol sensitivity or even intolerance to alcohol, unless a patient is taking special medicine”. “The facial flushing response to drinking usually occurs in a person who cannot genetically break down acetaldehyde, the first metabolite of alcohol.”

Researchers analyzed data from 1,763 men, including 288 non-drinkers, 527 flushing drinkers and 948 non-flushing drinkers and found that the “face-flushers” face higher risks of developing high blood pressure than non-flushers.

The researchers stated that allowing for age, body mass index (BMI), exercise status, and smoking status, the risk of hypertension was significantly increased when flushers consumed more than four drinks per week, while to non-flushers, the risk increased with consuming more than eight drinks per week. The results indicate that a red face after drinking may also be a red flag warning for a risk of increased hypertension associated with drinking alcohol.

“If you or your patients have facial flushing, the risk of hypertension can increase even if you drink less than those who do not have facial flushing,” said Kyung Hwan Cho, president of the Korean Academy of Family Medicine. “(Under these circumstances, I would) recommend limiting your or their drinking amount even more to prevent the development of hypertension.”

As always, I strongly recommend having your blood pressure checked, particularly if you fall into one of the groups listed on the Home page of this site.

Saunas and Hypertension – a dangerous mix

I was lucky enough to visit a health spa for a day recently, and generally had a wonderful, relaxing time. The day was slightly marred though, by a funny turn I had after visiting the sauna. I was absolutely fine while in there, probably for around 10-12 minutes but the problems started when I came out. First, a bit of background.

As well as being a hypertension sufferer, I have also experienced “silent migraines” since my early teens. Many of you will be aware of migraine headaches (some all too aware!) and the visual disturbance that can often precede them. Well luckily for me, I don’t get the awful headaches but I do get the visual disturbance quite often in the form of jagged, flickering lights and blind areas in my vision. When you get the visual disturbance but thankfully no headache, it’s called a “silent migraine”. These last for around half an hour after which I’m usually OK. But back to the story:

As I came out of the sauna, I was almost immediately aware that I had an odd bright patch in the middle of my vision in both eyes that was partially obscuring everything I looked at. So I couldn’t see very well. It was almost like the after-effect of staring at a bright light for a while, except that was not the case. It wasn’t the flickering lights that I normally see with a silent migraine, but I assumed the sauna had triggered some kind of migraine episode. I then went to sit in the Jacuzzi pool for 15 minutes, which was also quite warm, and when I got out I suddenly felt really dizzy and had to crouch down for half a minute. That soon passed however, and after another 20 minutes or so, my vision was back to normal and I felt fine. The rest of the day went without a hitch, but I made a mental note to try and find out a bit more about what happened in the sauna.

Well a bit of Google research turned up some surprising information. When people with normal blood pressure visit a sauna, the heat will often cause your blood pressure to drop. When you exit the sauna, the reverse can happen in that they will see elevated blood pressure for a while and then it drops back to normal. If you are a hypertension sufferer like me, this can have a profound effect on you, with your blood pressure sometimes rising to dangerous levels when you exit the sauna. No two people are the same, and no doubt, not everyone, with hypertension or without, would be affected in the same way. But I have a feeling that the visual disturbance and dizziness meant I was affected quite strongly and because of that I will probably avoid saunas altogether in the future.

Incidentally, I recently had another blood pressure review at my local health centre and I’m happy to say my blood pressure is the lowest it’s been for years. This was before the spa day by the way! My BP is usually around 140/90 mmHg, but this time was 136/87. Also, my blood test came back normal for cholesterol, blood sugar and kidney function, so I’m really pleased about that. I do try to watch my diet but believe in all things in moderation, so I don’t overdose on fatty food, sugary stuff and alcohol… Mostly 🙂
Perhaps also worth a mention is the fact that I am still taking garlic oil and cod liver oil capsules every day. I’m convinced they are helping.

Can I remind you that hypertension is a damaging and potentially fatal condition if left untreated and can often only be controlled effectively by prescribed medication. For this reason it is highly dangerous to attempt self-diagnosis and treatment and therefore you must always, always, always  refer to a doctor or healthcare professional if you have any concerns about your blood pressure.

Regards,
Mark.

 

Comment spam and Captcha

I’ve been seeing a lot of comment spam on this site recently, usually automated submissions consisting of a garbage comment with a link to another website. What the perpetrators are hoping is that the comment will be approved and then the link to their website will become live on mine, which is a tacky way of trying to elevate their site’s ranking on search engines like Google by using backlinks (incoming links to their site from other sites). None of the comments have appeared because thankfully WordPress (which this site is built with) places all comments for moderation before they will show. However, it means a lot of work for me as I have to manually go through the comments and mark them all as spam or trash.

To address this situation and to keep the site running smoothly I’ve decided to introduce a Captcha system. I know many of you do not like Captcha, whereby you have to try and read some scrambled word, letters or numbers and type them into a box before submitting a comment or registration, but given the volume of spam I’m getting I don’t really have much choice.

So with all due apologies, please bear with me on this and I hope it doesn’t detract from your experience of the site. On a plus note, the system I’ve put in has a great deal of customization available, so if you find the captcha too difficult for any reason, please let me know and do my best to address it.

Mark.